Dr. Joe Lopez of Nova Southeastern University will present his labs research at the 2015 GoMRI Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference on February 16th 2015 in Houston, TX.  Following is a brief synopsis of his work:

Microbiome /Community Genomics Component Summary:

Our NSU laboratory has been carrying out molecular microbiome characterizations of various marine habitats for the past few years. This includes coastal marine habitats and symbiont communities of reef invertebrates that could be exposed to oil spills.  One goal of our current project is to increase the understanding of baseline pelagic GOM microbial communities through deepwater sampling. We aim to apply powerful “-omics” methods, which includes the sequencing of genes and transcriptomes of marine sentinel species, including microbial plankton and microbial symbionts to better understand overall ecosystem functioning and resiliency.

With multiple microbiological and genomic technologies, we aim to characterize deep water microbial communities during periods without a major GOM oil spill.  High throughput sequencing of 16S amplicon libraries will provide a broad profile of bacterial community memberships. Application of novel universal eukaryotic rRNA primers will also enable us to characterize overlapping microbial eukaryotes in the same water transects.   Moreover, we will profile the microbes that may be found as gut contents within some of invertebrate and fish fauna collected during DEEPEND expeditions to delineate specific trophic pathways.

We hypothesize that a stable microbial community will be found, and that sudden inputs of PAHs will dramatically shift the microbial population structure.  If sufficient material can be obtained, we will also isolate total community mRNA in order to determine functional activities that can be matched with 16S rRNA taxonomies.

New methods will also be tested to culture novel oil-digesting bacteria from deepwater GOM sites, followed by extensive genome sequencing and comparative analyses.

The presentation can be downloaded here